The low number of Hawaii Covid cases had been enviable throughout the epidemic. Until now. The House Committee on Covid met yesterday and was informed that the state has gone from being at or near the bottom to higher than 23 mainland states in its Covid positivity rate. That according to John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.
Who is to blame for the reversal in cases?
Everything we’ve seen points in the direction of Hawaii residents spreading the virus through gatherings, among other things. Yesterday, state officials and others, asked the public to return to mask-wearing, and social distancing, so that the state does not need to enforce further action to stop the spread.
Furthermore, most new cases are said to be among Hawaii residents and are often associated with residents returning home from travel with resulting community spread. That, rather than being a result of tourist arrivals. It appears far less likely for tourists, many of whom are vaccinated, to be in as close contact with residents compared with those who live here and are returning. Las Vegas, ultra-popular among Hawaii residents, has been considered one breeding ground of Hawaii infections.
We thought things were going well here in Hawaii until suddenly they weren’t.
Since this epidemic began last year, Hawaii has been blessed with numbers low enough that many of us felt largely outside the scope of problems the mainland was facing. In fact, the State’s House Committee, too, had taken a relaxed approach and had not even met for 5 months, with problems seemingly in check. Now, however, things have changed.
In spite of this, for the moment, Hawaii travel roars on.
Currently, the state has not indicated any further changes planned that might impact tourism. And, visitors from the US mainland are still arriving in record numbers, as seen in the latest image below.
Hawaii’s concerns are multifaceted.
Hawaii first is worried about its limited medical capacity. That is very real, especially outside of Honolulu. And even in Honolulu, with most of the state’s resources, hospitalizations have gone up significantly in just the past few weeks.
The state, too, is concerned that any Covid policies and procedures changes could impact its still-fragile economy and the all-important Hawaii tourism engine. Senate chair Saiki said that already, “People are concerned we’re going to revert.”
Hawaii hospitals under pressure.
The limited island medical facilities are strained due to inadequate staffing of doctors and nurses and increased caseloads. Some hospitals are again postponing elective surgeries. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, “The best way, of course, to deal with this hospital surge is to not have it.” He added, ” there’ll be a lot of discussions to bring the heat down in coming weeks.” Green would like to see a new reduced limit on the size of gatherings implemented.
As a regular BOH commenter, David pointed out, “Lack of medical professionals in Hawaii, especially outside of Oahu/ Honolulu, is nothing new. Multiple reasons. Difficult state licensing requirements may be one of them, but also the cost of living versus pay rates and isolation from other professionals (few colleagues to consult with)… OK, there is no good place to have a heart attack, but if you are going to have one, get back to the mainland first. Serious trauma injuries (e.g., vehicle crashes of which we have plenty) get flown to Honolulu as a matter of routine.”
Are you less inclined to visit Hawaii now with COIVD numbers on the rise?